ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday called for declaring 2011 as “Textile Year” to substantially increase cotton cultivation, develop new and high yielding varieties of cotton and attract robust investment to promote textile industry in the country. During the “textile year” the state land in the command area of new dams being built in Sindh and Balochistan be distributed free among the poor women of the area for growing cotton.
He said this while addressing the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Annual Dinner here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Friday night, which was attended among others by Chairman APTMA, Ministers, members of Parliament, representatives of APTMA and business delegates. Spokesperson to the President Farhatullah Babar said that the President commented on the challenges facing the country and said that the country was passing through difficult economic times.
He said that global recession, shortage of energy, rising expectations, extremism and unwillingness to pay taxes have all contributed to our economic problems. The President asked for finding innovative ways to tackle the situation. The President stated said that the government adopted the policy of public-private partnership for rapid development, reduction in poverty and employment opportunities in the country.
The President highlighted the importance of textile sector in the economic development of Pakistan and said that the setting up of garment cities in Karachi, Lahore and Faisalabad is recognition of the importance the government accords to the textile sector. The spokesperson said that the President expressed the hope that these projects will place Pakistan among the leading nations producing and exporting textile value added products and will also contribute to raising Pakistan’s share in world textile trade.
The President said the government introduces many policies and these policies show positive results, adding, this is also responsibility of the industry to come forward and take the ownership of the policies so that continuity of the successful policies can continue. He said the governments come and go but policies should continue, adding, that in 1993-96 the PPP government introduced Energy policy which ended load-shedding in the country but it was reversed when PPP government was removed.
At that time, Industry should have stepped forward to own the policy and should not have allowed the new government to reverse, the President said and regretted that the Industry failed to do so, resulting in the reversal of a policy which proved to detriment to the interests of the country. The President said that economic growth of the country is being hampered by the consistent war against militancy and weak law and order situation in the country.
Pakistan’s economy suffered a huge loss of over 50 billion dollars over the past eight years due to the war against militancy, the President said and added that the image of the country has also been tarnished by the militants and terrorists killing innocent people. The President said that Pakistan needed trade and not aid and apprised the business delegates that the government has urged the international community to help in our economic development for fighting the menace of militancy by giving market access and trade concessions.
“We have asked the US and European Union countries to give us market access. Market access will create employment opportunities in Pakistani”, he said. The President said that Job opportunities thus created will wean away the frustrated jobless youth from joining the extremists and militants.
The President said the government is trying hard with European Union for market access and “I assure APTMA that the government shall pursue for the market access with rigor and intensity and I am quite hopeful that we will succeed.”
The President said that the government while recognizing the importance of the textile sector in the economic growth has announced the first ever textile policy to facilitate the over all growth of the sector.
Similarly the government has set a limit on exports of low valued yarn to develop the textile industry knowing the domestic textile industry is currently going through revival phase, he added. He said that the government took this initiative to make available raw material in the domestic market for value added textile sector and expressed the hope that this would enable the industry to enhance value added textile exports.
The President urged that the measures taken by the government to revive the textile industry, particularly the establishment of garment/textile cities should form the basis of sustained growth and economic stability of the country.
The President expressed the hope that the policy would provide great opportunity for investment from local and foreign investors in the value added clothing and made up sectors. “It will also provide substantial job opportunities mainly to women workers”.
The President said that the government has also taken measures to build small dams and grow cotton in the command areas. Three of the proposed dams, Darawat Dam in Jamshoro, Nai Gaj Dam in Dadu and Nau Long Dam in Jhal Magsi are in advanced stages of planning and building, he appraised the gathering.
He said that the total command area of these dams is over two hundred thousand (200,000) acres and the government plans to give free the state owned land in the command areas to the poor women of the area which he said will not only increase our cotton yield but also empower women. The President said that “we have to learn to develop our own resources to make progress as the days of free aid are over. “As is said there is no such thing as free lunch”, he said.
He said that the era of controlled economies was also over as the international trading regime of WTO calls for an open and fair international trade.
The President said that the Government of Pakistan was fully aware of the importance and force of free competition and observed that State interference results in market distortions and discourages private incentive for investment.
The spokesperson said that the President was pleased to say that today Pakistan is one of the most WTO-compliant countries in the world.
The President assured that in the domestic sphere “we are as committed to free enterprise and private initiative as we are in the global market” and said that the Government committee will protect and promote a free market mechanism and also to bring down all barriers in the way of free and fair trade.
The President expressed the confidence that the textile industry would fully avail of the free market opportunity and do its best in terms of performance and investment. “We will take APTMA on board on all economic and investment matters. One such area where public-private coordination is needed is market access”, he said.
The President apprised the representatives of APTMA that he has suggested to the government to form a “Presidential Coordination Committee” for removal of hurdles in achieving textile industry targets. “We are also examining the possibility of evolving a five-year textile industry development plan in association with the industry”, he said.
The President also congratulated and welcomed the new Ministers on the occasion.-APP